Apple's Safari, which is mostly used on mobile devices, held a desktop share of 5.07%, compared to 5.24% last month, according to market watcher Net Applications.
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"March was a great month for the IE team," said Robert Capriotti, Microsoft's director for Explorer marketing, in a blog post Sunday. Microsoft crunched its own numbers to show that IE9 is holding its own on the company's most current desktop OS, Windows 7. "We continue to see great strides against our core metric: IE9 share on Windows 7," said Capriotti.
Some 48.8% of those running Windows 7 used Internet Explorer 9 to access the Web in March, compared to 14.6% for Chrome and 11.6% for Mozilla Foundation's Firefox 11. "This month in the U.S. nearly 50% of Windows 7 users are experiencing the best the Web has to offer with IE9," said Capriotti.
Capriotti said IE9's rise was due in part to some heavy promotions by Microsoft, including a series of televisions ads that poked fun at previous, more lumbering versions of the browser, and some co-sponsorships revolving around Lionsgate's hit film The Hunger Games. A special website is designed to allow IE9 users to take a virtual tour of Panem's oppressive Capitol city, while also showing off the potential of Web display technologies like HTML5 and CSS3.
IE9 is better able to take advantage of new chip technologies than previous versions of Explorer, as it is able to discretely hand off some elements of Web display, such as rendering HTML5 graphics, to dedicated GPU units on the client side through support for Direct3D and other graphics standards. In terms of privacy, IE9 adds a feature Microsoft calls Tracking Protection Lists, which allows users to control how websites share their viewing histories with other sites.
Still, it's not all good news for Microsoft on the browser front. Explorer's share has been declining steady in recent years, having fallen from almost 80% as recently as 2008. At one point, Explorer's share topped 90%. Microsoft is hoping to further shore up Explorer's market position when it releases IE10 later this year as part of the Windows 8 launch.
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